Monday, April 26, 2004

Moonage Daydream: The Virgin Suicides (2000)

Five sisters -- the entrancing Lisbon daughters -- commit suicide and forever haunt the imaginations of the young men fortunate enough to have encountered them during their all too brief lives. Much like her brother Roman’s first feature, CQ (2001), Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut was self-assured and gave one much hope as to what she would accomplish in the future. Of course, her second film, Lost in Translation (2003), not only lived up to the promise, it secured her place as one of the most intelligent and gifted American directors working today. Based on Jeffrey Eugenide’s novel of the same name, The Virgin Suicides -- the film -- could have easily deteriorated into maudlin morbidity or juvenile preciousness if a lesser talent had directed it. But as it turned out, Coppola’s skillful adaptation is a dreamy, melancholic fable that brilliantly balances the story’s enigmatic power with dollops of black humor and a gentle poignancy that is hard to shake off. Set in Michigan during the mid-1970s, the film’s sense of period detail and use of rock songs from the era are first rate. The original soundtrack by French electronic-pop duo Air is equally superb, and adds a fabulous drifting flow to this cinematic loss of innocence. The ensemble cast is excellent as well.

The Virgin Suicides is available on DVD from Paramount Home Video.

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